From the National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos, Monday, May 24, 2010
You know it’s a special day, the kind of day that makes Galápagos such an amazing place, when you have awesome encounters with dolphins and sea lions by mid morning.
The day began fairly quietly with a visit to the historic Post Office barrel on Floreana Island. Here, sailors and whalers would leave their mail to be collected and returned to places far away. This time-honored tradition continues here, with visitors both leaving mail and taking mail to deliver, by hand, to addresses near their homes.
After breakfast, we headed out for Zodiac tours of Champion Islet, in search of the rare and elusive Floreana mockingbird. While we enjoyed sightings of the mockingbird, the real treat was discovering a group of bottlenose dolphins passing by the islet. We had great views from the Zodiacs as we paralleled their course, and several of us were splashed by their powerful tail slaps.
We returned to the ship to quickly switch into our wetsuits and grab our snorkel gear. It was a terrific day for observing young playful sea lions at very close range. It seemed like they were everywhere, swooping around us, soaring through the water, playing with each other and curiously coming nose to nose with us as well. It was a joyful experience.
Afternoon brought us back ashore at Floreana Island for photo and natural history walks. We found many interesting subjects along the way, from a single flamingo in the brackish lagoon to dozens of colorful Sally lightfoot crabs clinging to black lava rocks awash with surf. Yet another stunning event happened as many of us witnessed a sole Galápagos green sea turtle hatchling emerge from the sand and make its way to the sea. Cheers went up as it seemed to escape the predatory eyes of the frigatebirds overhead. Two more hatchlings were less lucky as frigates plucked them from the soft sand and gobbled them down.
The golden sunset sky signaled the end to another magical day in Galápagos. What an incredible place, it fills us with awe and amazement for the natural world.
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